By Linda Hall •
Published: 10 Nov 2023 • 9:49
SHORT-LIVED: Carles Puigdemont declares the independent Catalan republic in October 2017
Photo credit: Generalitat de Catalunya
WOULD he, wouldn’t he, was he going to say yes, was he going to say no and was he going to change his mind at the last minute.
These are the questions that the PSOE socialists and Pedro Sanchez have been asking for months but on November 9 they had some answers.
They knew then that Junts per Cataluña – in other words, the region’s ex-president Carles Puigdemont who controls the party from afar – would back Sanchez’s investiture as president of the Spanish government.
It all hinged on an amnesty for the Catalan separatists who, headed by Puigdemont, arranged an unauthorised referendum on October 1, 2017, and declared Cataluña an independent republic on October 27.
As another PSOE government began to look like a certainty, Cuca Gamarra, the Partido Popular’s parliamentary spokeswoman declared, “Today the Spanish are living through a shameful day. Pedro Sanchez wants to humiliate us.”
The PP, Gamarra vowed, would challenge Sanchez’s future government “with a strong opposition.”
Isabel Diaz, regional president of the Madrid Community and more of a Partido Popular hawk than dove, lamented that the agreement meant Spain would be “entering a dictatorship.”
In June 2022, the PSOE-UP coalition government headed by Pedro Sanchez pardoned regional politicians from Junts and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and leaders of pro-independence civic groups. Unlike Puigdemon they remained in Spain to face the music after their failed UDI attempt.
Found guilty of sedition and misuse of public fund, they had been imprisoned for terms of up to 13 years and were pardoned on the understanding that while they were free to want independence, they would do nothing to implement it.
If the pardons were hard to swallow for the PP and ultra-Right Vox, they were also indigestible for many other Spaniards including PSOE voters and veteran politicians like the former president, Felipe Gonzalez.
The amnesty is seen by many as a step too far along the road leading to breaches of the Constitution and the eventual breakup of Spain.
When the Puigdemont-Sanchez deal began to look increasingly like at the beginning of November, the PP’s leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo called on those who opposed the amnesty to protest outside PSOE headquarters throughout Spain.
Most were relatively uneventful, but a demonstration outside the PSOE party headquarters in Madrid’s Calle Ferraz on November 7 escalated when it was taken over by far-Right Vox and even further Right neo-fascist group. These included the Falange which was the only party tolerated during the Franco dictatorship.
Thirty-nine people, 30 of them police officers, were injured in skirmishes where some of the mob threw everything that came to hand, which at one point included an electric scooter and- mysteriously – a cupboard. There were Nazi salutes and insults centring on Sanchez who was described as an hijo de puta (whoreson) as well as a criminal and a dictator.
Interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who is openly gay was called un maricón (poof).
Feijoo immediately condemned the violence although the PSOE’s spokeswoman Isabel Fernandez wanted to hear a little more vehemence in the PP’s condemnation.
“He should reject the slogans and symbols used in these demonstrations,” Fernandez declared.
The investiture debate has been pencilled in for November 25 and 15 but although Sanchez has secured an overall majority after three and a half months of fast-talking and hard dealing, he awaits toxic reactions to an amnesty not wanted by an estimated 70 per cent of the population.
His troubles are just beginning.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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